What to expect when you’re expecting (your parents)
The following is a service piece I’ve written this semester, just a few weeks ago, tailored to TimeOut New York’s “Things To Do” section. They did not think it was the thing to do, or the way to go, but that’s what this blog is for, no?
Congratulations, you’re a New Yorker.
You waited a long time, your hard work had paid off, and you got relocated – whether for school, a job or pleasure. You’re at the top of the pyramid and everyone wants to be you, or at the very least be near you. In other words: expect numerous visitors. If your friends are coming the itinerary is fairly simple, on a budget and most likely drenched in booze. But what if it’s your parents?
In that case, you will want to impress and show them you know your way around. There are the obvious sites their friends, who last visited New York in the late 90s and think they’re experts, had sent them to: the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Empire State Building. But you – their overachieving child making it in The Big Apple, know better. So take them on a tour on and off the island and show them the nooks and crannies reserved for those in-the-know.
The Williamsburg Bridge and the Flea Market – Stroll along the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects Manhattan’s Lower East Side (LES) with the hipster trendy neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, for the scenery, the (somewhat) fresh air and stepping off the island for a bit. The popular Saturday Smorgasburg food and produce flea market will only re-open April 7t, but do not despair: the Smorgasbrewery at the Brooklyn Brewery showcases produce from five of the food vendors usually found at Smorgasburg. At the Skylight One, in what used to be the former Williamsburg Savings Bank, more than 100 vendors display their merchandise. To walk off lunch, step over to the East River State Park, overlooking the very same bridge you walked on to get there as well as Midtown Manhattan. Smorgasburg: 79 N. 11th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, every Sunday, noon-5pm; Skylight One Hanson: One Hanson Place, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, every Saturday and Sunday, 10-5pm; East River State Park: 90 Kent Ave.
Food for thought: Juliette Café is a cozy spot with a beautiful rooftop that’s worth the visit. 135 North 5th St at Bedford
- Galleries are free museums – Consumerism is the fifth religion – but why not consume art instead of clothes? West Broadway St in SoHo flourishes with galleries and boutiques only your mother can afford; and it is a great alternative to its infamous brother four blocks east, the crowded Broadway, which can give you flashbacks of Rockefeller Center right before Christmas. For instance, Franklin Bowles Gallery displays the great Picasso and Matisse and Peter Lik Gallery has scenic photographs that are so magnificent they’re borderline paintings. Not too far away, a brisk 20 minute walk or ride on the F, lies the Lower East Side. It used to be what your parents call “a dodgy neighborhood,” but no longer. Though you’re used to seeing it through beer goggles on a Saturday night, there’s plenty your folks can do there. The New Museum displays irregular and quirky exhibits (giant hot tub open for all, anyone?), in addition to numerous galleries sprawled in the area. To name a few: .NO for Norwegian art, Anastasia Photo Gallery for Photojournalism, Cuchifritos for contemporary and community art, and FIFI Projects for video and photography. Franklin Bowles Gallery: 431 W Broadway, Manhattan; Peter Lik Gallery: 419 W Broadway; New Museum: 235 Bowery St; .NO: 251 East Houston St; Anastasia Photo Gallery: 166 Orchard St; Cuchifritos: 120 Essex St; FIFI: 29 Essex St.
Food for thought: The Meatball Shop, a delicious twist on simplicity. 84 Stanton St
Show them Harlem isn’t scary anymore - Justified or not, for years and years anything above Central Park used to be an area tourists shied away from. Nowadays, gentrification to blame (or thank,) it’s as happening as any other neighborhood. Stop by the historic Apollo Theater where John Lennon, Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix performed. The venue now gives stage mostly to amateur singers and dancers, but you are welcome to cheer on – tickets are available via Ticketmaster or at the theater. Residents of the area swear by Lenox Ave, a vibrant, colorful street where an abundance of jazz bars and clubs are inviting to both old and new: 449 LA SCAT and Lenox Lounge to name a few. If already in the area and in the mood, hop several blocks west to the legendary Cotton Club, where swing-dance nights are regular, much like jazz and gospel. Apollo Theater: 253 W 125th St, Manhattan, tickets sell from $19-$40; LA SCAT: 449 Lenox Ave, between 132 and 133 St; Lenox Lounge: 288 Lenox Ave, between 124 and 125 St; Cotton Club: 656 W 125th St, tickets for swing-dance night $25, for blues&jazz $53, for gospel $39.50.
Food for thought: While the masses flock to the highly acclaimed Red Rooster, settle down at Sylvia’s, an old-school, revered soul food establishment. 328 Lenox Ave
PS1 and Five Points – Heading out to Brooklyn left you craving more of that out-of-Manhattan feeling? Why not head to Queens: Long Island City offers some of the most interesting experiences back to back, in the form of MoMa’s PS1 and the graffiti center of 5Ptz. The Museum of Modern Art dedicated PS1 to experimental creators and exhibits, and while over the summer they hold some of the maddest parties in the city, not that your parents are interested, day to day they hold both permanent and changing installations that are quite different than the more mainstream parent MoMa. In 5Ptz, aerosol artists from all over the world display their creations on the walls of an old factory building. You may very well encounter artists in action as well as musicians in the space, which is pretty much under constant threat of being shut down. The result is striking, vibrant murals that are very much legit. PS1: 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave, Queens; 5Ptz: 45-46 Davis St.
Food for thought: Catch the 7 train to Flushing and devour “the best dumplings in the New York,” at Nan Xiang Dumpling House. 38-12 Prince St
- Walk the Highline - The Highline, a former railroad turned elevated, outdoor park, opened in 2009. “The Mecca of urban design” attracted millions of visitors so far, and is a curious mix of green patches, superfluous vegetation, wooden benches and stone. Every part is a bit different than the next, yet it flows coherently. While strolling, you get to overlook the Hudson River on one side and the great Gotham on the other. If the area strikes your fancy, simply backtrack: alternate between the Hudson River Park which is parallel to the Hudson River, the Chelsea Market which is usually superfluous with as much produce as it is with visitors, and the high-end boutiques of the Meatpacking District – DVF, Moschino, the late Alexander McQueen, and more. The Highline: Gansevoort St on the west side, all the way up to 30th St, between 10h and 11t Avenues; Chelsea Market: on 15th St and 9th Ave.
Food for thought: Not far from the origin of the Highline, down in the West Village, are some of the best hamburgers in the city. Waiting time at The Spotted Pig is usually long, and they do not take reservations, but it is a good fit for foodies. And for your parents, moreover if they’re avid People readers – the place is usually swarming with celebrities. West 11th and Greenwich St